British auctioneer returns for 19th year at Naples Winter Wine Fest

In a matter of days, extravagant trips, getaways and prizes will be auctioned off, and it will all benefit children in Southwest Florida. An auctioneer at the event will use his high energy to get people excited to spend to help a charity for children.

We spoke to auctioneer Humphrey Butler Thursday at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in North Naples, where he will lead the auctions at Naples Winter Wine Festival 2020, benefiting Naples Children & Education Foundation.

This will be butlers nineteenth year auctioning the event. Butler hails from England, and he has been flying into Southwest Florida from London on an annual basis to help host Winter Wine Festival. He says he is just as nervous as the first year.

“I get nervous beforehand,” Butler said. “I always say the day you stop getting nervous before one of these events is the day you give up.”

But giving up is not on Butler’s agenda. This year Winter Wine Festival is trying to break its record of $200 million.

“I’m ready for it,” Butler said.

Denise Cobb, one of the original founders of the festival, helped find what they call their philanthropic secret weapon.

“You have to see it to believe it,” Cobb said. “He is energetic, very brutish, and his humor is hilarious. And he kids, but in a fun way and gets the bidding sky high.”

Butler seems to have a simple and effective approach to keeping bidders active at auctions.

“I say, ‘Don’t stop. Why stop?’” Butler said.

Butler says the energy of the crowd is what keeps him pushing for more.

“Everyone responds with good humor if you needle them a little,” Butler said. “Who has the bigger muscle, financial advantage here, and I take advantage of that. And they are so generous.”

The auction begins Saturday at the Ritz-Carlton in North Naples. Prize include trips around the world, fancy cars and, well, a whole lot of wine.

You can read more about why the auctioneer comes back every year in the 50th anniversary edition of Gulfshore Life Magazine.

Butler said it’s an honor to be a part of the program that gives so much to the children of the community

“Some of the kids that benefit from the help of the wine festival is fantastic, and it’s uplifting and tear jerking,” Butler said.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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